I really wanted to like this book, since it had been highly recommended to me. It did not happen in this case however; I just found the writing below par, with characters ranging from insipid to unsympathetic to repulsive.
The story begins in the present day with an awkwardly-wrought third-person narrative focused on the point-of-view of Luke Findley, a divorced and distraught young doctor. It then switches to a tale from the past that begins in 1809, narrated by a young woman, Lanore (“Lanny”), who has been brought to the hospital under Luke’s care for treatment. Lanny’s narrative is the more compelling; when it switches back to Luke, the author loses confidence, or maybe just interest, since Luke is as dull as dry toast.
Lanny’s story describes how she became immortal and how she managed to kill her not-immortal-anymore ex-boyfriend Jonathan. In order to finish telling her story to Luke, however, she needs him to sneak her out of the hospital and away from the police, who await her treatment for shock in order to take her into custody for the murder. Luke, feeling an inexorable pull towards this woman-who-looks-like-a-child (yet another awful aspect of this book), agrees.
Lanny and her story are more interesting, but not in a good way. The characters she describes are pretty close to evil, and obsessed with sex for expressing just about everything but love. Most of the time, it is used for manipulation, or worse still, as a weapon.
In addition, in both the past and the present narratives, there is a preoccupation with and overvaluing of physical beauty over inner worth. Maybe that’s because there isn’t much inner worth in evidence. The incredibly-beautiful-in-appearance character Jonathan is identified in the book as “The Taker,” but really, he is far from the only one. Lanny and Luke are supposedly “givers,” but actually they are more like pathetic enablers with no self-esteem. Nor is there much moral equivocating in the story beyond the occasional twinge over will-I-get-caught. After a while the reader begins to feel as vapid as the characters, simply for not throwing the book out the window.
Evaluation: I did not like this book: I loathed the repulsive distortions of sex, love, and commitment evinced by the characters, whom I loathed as well, and I didn’t respect the writing. The nice twist at the end did not begin to compensate for the rest of it.
Published by Gallery Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2011